Winter Sports Singletrack

Vasa Fat Bike Race Course Info

VASA START.jpg

We are just over a week away from the North American Vasa, the highlight of winter here in northern Michigan!

The 43rd Annual North American Vasa is a true festival of races, inviting winter enthusiasts to test themselves against the trail and the elements in freestyle and classic skiing, plus 40 or 20 kilometers of fast, fun fat bike racing later in the afternoon. It’s an event that as grown and re-shaped itself to serve the winter sports community over the years, and the current iteration of the Vasa offers a little something for everyone, while bring all sorts of athletes to celebrate winter in all its glory.

The fat bike races are known as some of the prestigious and beautiful event on the calendar. It’s a rare holdout in that it doesn’t rely on short, 1-2 mile laps like many fat bike races. While those are really fun for racers and spectators alike, most were born out of necessity; it takes a lot fewer resources to groom a mile or two compared to maintaining 10 miles or more! We’re committed to grooming not only our normal Winter Sports Singletrack, but have added sections of Riley’s Loop and Logger’s Run, plus helping clean up section within Timber Ridge, to offer racer a chance to explore the full cornucopia of trail flavors we are so lucky to have access to here in Traverse City.

The two races take on one and two laps of the 20 kilometer course. The lap includes an exciting mix of singletrack and wider two-track to allow for plenty of passing opportunities, which you’ll want to take full advantage of before spilling into Yeti’s Revenge, a seasonal ‘floating trail’ floating singletrack that has become a local favorite. It’s a course that is as fun as it is challenging, and whether you’re going for the crown or going for fun, it’s really a treat to ride.

Last year, a number of riders finished the 40km race inside two hours, while plenty of others were comfortably withing two and a half hours. It’s a race that is very much dependent on snow conditions, and with that in mind, our groomers have been in the woods almost non-stop since this recent blizzard fired up. We’re working hard to clear and compact trail, and the warm-up this weekend should be a big help in turning a great base into a firm and fast track for race day.

We also wanted to point out one of the unique and incredibly cool ways to take on the Vasa. The race offers two combination races, the SkiFatalon and the Triple Threat Challenge. The SkiFatalon combines your time from the 27km ski and the 40km fat bike race, a grueling way to get in both of your favorite winter sports in a single morning. If that isn’t enough, you can always do more, as in doing the full 50km ski, the 40km fat bike race immediately after, plus hopping in the 35km Classic race on Sunday!

If you’re ready to go give the 2019 course a look, you can use the gpx files right here. We’ve also got all the Vasa maps you need uploaded to the Vasa site right here.

See our incredible trails for yourself on February 9; sign up for the 43rd Annual North American Vasa and see the best singletrack around!

Low Ain't Slow: Tire Pressure Tips For Real Winter Conditions

up3.JPG

After weeks of riding a mix of dirt, crusty ice, and just an inch or two of snow, it’s time to make the important tire pressure adjustments to preserve the trail and the fun.

For much of December, riders on the Winter Sports Singletrack were able to hop on their fat bike and ride at just about any tire pressure that suited them. While it may have looked a bit nordic, the trail’s base was so thin that we were really riding on just a few millimeters of snow, with roots and leaves poking through in many places on the trail system. Most of the trail was biked-groomed; instead of needing a snowmobile and drag, a few early-morning riders were able to pack things in nicely.

With this New Year’s Eve blizzard, however, it’s time to take another look at tire pressure. While you may right 8, 10, even 12 psi, those same pressures positively slice through soft snow. Even with a trail that’s been groomed and given time to set up, tire pressures that firm punch through, slide out, and cause deep ruts that take hours and hours to repair. How much time? To give you an idea, our volunteers put in over 11 hours of grooming on New Year’s Day alone!

So, what should your tires be at? After riding for years now, we’ve detemined that 4 psi is the highest pressure that you might ever need, and even that’s reserved for days with a firm base. Starting from 4psi, you can air down a little at a time until you have enough grip to stand up and pedal hard without slipping, and to turn without sliding out. That pressure can change slightly based on rim width, tire size, and rider weight; a heavier rider might need 1-2 psi more than a lighter rider. It can take a little guess-and-check, but once you find the right tire pressure for the conditions and your weight and riding style, you won’t just help us preserve the trail, you’ll also have a lot more fun!

We usually look for the tire to ‘puddle’, or flatten out once under weight. This puts the maximum amount of rubber on the snow for more traction, and gives you more flotation. Staying on top of the snow minimizes your track or rut in the snow, as well as making you much more efficient. Think of a dune buggy; those big balloon tires help to stay high on the sand, instead of slogging through it. That’s the same idea behind fat bike tires, and when in doubt, less pressure is always more fun.

Timing your ride to grooming efforts can also be a big help. With most of our trails being groomed in the morning, they’re often softer until they have time to set-up. Snow usually takes a few hours to get firm after being rolled or groomed, and the longer you can hold off, the better. You’ll always be the first to know if you’ve purchased your grooming badge…and you’ll help us to get out more often, and longer, with enough support to keep grooming as long as the snow flies!

You can learn more about our grooming efforts across northern Michigan, how to confidently adjust your tire pressure, and loads of more info at out NMMBA Annual Meeting this Sunday at Timber Ridge!

What. A. Ride. Iceman 2018 Was Incredible!


Expo.jpg

There really is nothing quite like Iceman.

A frosty chill in the air, some frozen sleet and a touch of snow in the morning, and a flying-fast course will make 2018 go down as one of the quickest editions of the race in the past 29 years. 5,000 riders braved the cold to thrown down on what might be the freshest iteration of the race route in a number of years.

NMMBA put countless hours into designing a balance route that offered a little something for everyone, while always putting safety first. When you pour 5,000 riders into a singletrack, you’re putting both people and trail into a tough spot. That’s why Tom White and the rest of our trail crew offered up some new sections of gravel road before and after crucial points of the race that contributed to opening up gaps between riders, and rewarding smart positioning and good bike handling.

That new gravel road was extremely important, leading directly to what may have been the decisive point in the day for most waves. Tornado Alley is a short but important stretch of singletrack before crossing Dockery Road, and by all reports, served as the first test in both the first few morning waves and the Pro races later in the afternoon.

We were happy to receive some glowing reviews of the course, as well as very few reports of singletrack back-ups, which have been issues in years past. We also gathered plenty of feedback on our trail work the other 364 days of the year at the Expo on Friday. Thanks to plenty of volunteers from TC, Glacial Hills, Bike Leelanau, and Cadillac Pathway, were were able to talk, answer questions, and sign up plenty of new members both in person and online! Seven lucky people also strolled home with a custom, stainless steel display stand from our pals at up.bike!

Congrats to everyone who raced, and a special thanks to all the volunteers that make such a big event possible. While it might be the end of racing this fall, we’re only just gearing up for winter fat bike riding. You can help us prep the Winter Sports Singletrack this Saturday, November 10 from 9-12. We’ll get sticks, limbs, and branches cleared to avoid any issues once the snow falls. We’ve got a very narrow winter to do so before rifle season starts the following weekend, so if you can make it, we need all the hands we can get!

Grooming Plans This Week on the Winter Sports Singletrack, Plus A Party!

26731634_1906149366081635_4815928572815772317_n.jpg

Fat bikers enjoyed incredible conditions this past weekend! Who knew we'd have some of the best riding of the nearly halfway through March! 

Our plan this week is to groom as conditions allow, with all of our efforts focused on the 'original' WST loop as it was groomed last year. Yeti's Revenge is closed for the year, and with good reason; if we present this section to the DNR in the same state we started grooming it in December, we may be given permission to groom even more floating trails in 2018-2019. We're asking everyone to stay off that section both now and when the snow melts. 

Looking at the weather the next few days, we're looking at temperatures well below freezing most nights, which will make the mornings an ideal time to ride. When it gets to be over freezing in the afternoon and evening, we ask that you continue to watch your impact on the trail so that we can enjoy riding as long as the season allows. Next weekend, we may see enough melt that the ice could return, but we'll do our best to keep you up-to-date here, in grooming reports, and on all our social channels. 

Don't forget to join us at Blue Tractor this Wednesday, March 14 at 5:30 for the Groomer's Appreciation Party. Our annual get-together honors TART and NMMBA groomer crews for their hard work in maintaining the trails and to put a cap on another great winter skiing and riding season! 

Weekend Plans: Trail Conditions For 2/17-18

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 2.07.45 PM.png

 

With temperatures over 40 degrees today and a quick deep freeze overnight, we wanted to help you plan you riding this weekend! 

A crucial element to maintaining groomed trails in these conditions is the cooperation of trail users. Please stay off the trails if you're leaving any sort of rut; with such little snow, it's very hard to level the trail back out. If we're all smart Thursday and Friday, we'll have a great ride Friday evening and through the weekend. 

Winter Sports Singletrack, Traverse City: Yeti's Revenge is closed for the season. The DNR gave us permission to groom this section, and we've heard a lot of positive feedback about it from you! Please respect the tape on the entrances to this loop and leave it be; if we leave it as good as we left it, we may have more opportunities next for season trails next winter! Riding conditions should be improved by Friday afternoon and Saturday, with warmer temperatures making Sunday morning the end of prime riding time until we get more cold weather.

Glacial Hills, Bellaire: The trail is open and ready to roll. Watch for hard packed conditions to return Friday with the cool down, as well as great opportunities to ride Sunday morning as well. At this point in the season, the grooming team has decided to suspend operations, unless there are significant changes to the long-range forecast. 

Leelanau State Park Winter Trails, Northport: The trail is CLOSED until Friday due to soft trail conditions. Please stay off the trail until we get that promised freeze and have a bit of time to groom a flat, safe surface. The weekend should be incredible, however, so don't miss your chance to get out there! 

Cadillac Pathways, Cadillac: There is very little snow and soft conditions currently. Please stay tuned to any changes to trail conditions in the near future, and if you do choose to ride, make sure you're running a low tire pressure and riding safely, especially as the trail freezes over heading into the weekend.